Those I described as the non-conformists or murderers of the language, to use the word sarcastically to illustrate my reservations, are still on the prowl spreading thier poisonous venoms thereby soiling the standard English. The listening and reading publics, especially, the casual and less informed persons are fed with the wrong words or phrases and end up mimicking what they hear and read on radio, television, the newspapers and other platforms of mass communication. The new media for me, is like a dumping ground for some of the un-English expressions.
Little wonder, people speak of garbage in garbage out to ridicule the all-comers platform, the Internet, where no one seams to be control. It takes knowledge, wisdom and careful sorting to separate the grain from the chaff. Our children should be guided on the use of the Internet, not just for the sake of language but to keep them away from other criminal activities and devices posted on Facebook, among other chatting and interactive channels. And now our focus.
The phrase, wrongly used though, “At the spur of the moment” find space in some of our newspaper pages and even the airwaves to the annoyance of the English pragmatics. I have read and heard it on the newspapers, radio and television news bulletins. The new media as I said earlier, should be discountenanced in this regard because they cannot not be relied on or trusted. Here, people commit all manner of atrocities in engaging the language.
It is neither here nor there when the standard English matters most. The American English appears to take precedence, whereas the British English is the standard for Nigeria. Our media houses, institutions of learning and even in government and official circles, adopt the British and not American English. Recall, the British colonised Nigeria. The citizens were therefore inductrinated to take to the British in virtually everything, ranging from administration, law, organization, social life and etiquette. The correct usage of the phrase is, “On the spur of the moment,” not “At the spur of the moment,” as some would speak or write.
Note the prepositions “on” and “at” separates the right phrase from the wrong. That is the language for you. That is the odd about English. It must be learnt and assimilated. It goes beyond knowing the language and how to apply it. One must also be current with certain changes that come with time and space. The language evolves and not static. Just as we have the Elizabethan, Victorian and Shakespearean English at a period in time, now our modern English.
To break it down further, the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary explains “On the spur of the moment.” The verb, spurred, (spurring) is to urge, to excite, encourage or provoke someone into action. On can correctly write, for instance, “The fans spurred their darling team, the Super Eagles to victory.” Again, “on the spur of the moment” phrase, if you like, is a fixed statement that need not to be tampered with or diluted in anyway by the writer.